MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. –
– It was the type of game you’re used to seeing the Rams win so far in 2012: a knock down, drag out fight on the scoreboard where a defensive struggle eventually swings the Rams way on a turnover or a big play offensively that just comes at the right time.
– But Sunday’s 17-14 loss saw Miami actually use the Rams’ recipe to find its way to a win and leave the Rams with a disappointing and frustrating loss on the road.
– From the standpoint of the numbers, if you just looked at the stat sheet, you’d think the Rams not only won but won comfortably. They dominated in every category except the only one that matters: the scoreboard.
– In some sense, that might be more maddening than the type of slugfest games the Rams have won each of the past two weeks.
– On the injury front, the Rams came through relatively clean. Only CB Bradley Fletcher even came out of the game and his shoulder injury wasn’t enough to keep him from returning.
– As for the game, this seems like one of those games that the Rams youth worked against them. They outgained Miami by an astounding 462-192. They averaged 6.7 yards per play to the Dolphins 3.9.
– So how does such a discrepancy turn into a loss instead of a win? That’s the question that will haunt the Rams but the answers are fairly simple. As QB Sam Bradford says it’s the “little things.”
– A poorly timed penalty here, a missed connection on a pass there, a missed blitz pickup, those types of things left the Rams settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. It’s a problem that’s plagued them in the first five weeks and reared its ugly head again Sunday. Quite simply, as every Ram in the locker room said after the game: yards aren’t good enough, it’s about points.
– Obviously, it was a bit of a shock to see rookie K Greg Zuerlein miss three field goals, including one from 37 yards, an easy chip shot for him in the first half. Yes, if he makes any of those attempts, the Rams at least go to overtime. But let’s be realistic here: Zuerlein wasn’t going to make every kick his whole career. It was going to happen. The real issue is the Rams offense not finishing drives. One touchdown in lieu of any of the field goal attempts and the Rams are 4-2.
– Tip of the cap to Zuerlein who stood and answered every question after the game. That’s not easy for anyone to do but the rookie is as stand up a guy as you’ll find. And he’ll be just fine moving forward.
– Elsewhere on the special teams, not a good day in general. Miami scored its points on the heels of special teams miscues. Zuerlein’s missed field ended in the touchdown to WR Marlon Moore, a fumble by FB Brit Miller ended with a field goal from Miami’s Dan Carpenter and a long kick return set up the final touchdown drive.
– For a unit that’s been nearly spotless so far this season, it was absolutely a disappointing outing.
– Miller blamed himself for not letting the ball go on the kickoff return he fumbled. He was trying to make something happen and really should have let the ball go.
– Some scary moments for CB Janoris Jenkins on punt returns as well. He coughed up a fumble that went out of bounds.
– Speaking of Jenkins, I wrote about him developing earlier this week but also mentioned that he has a habit of getting caught with what he calls “bad eye,” where he gets stuck looking in the backfield and gets beat over the top. That’s exactly what happened on Moore’s touchdown and something Jenkins knows he needs to fix.
– As a whole, though, it was another strong performance by the Rams defense, especially against the run. Miami had 18 yards on 17 carries. Combined with the performance against Arizona last week, the Rams have allowed 63 yards the past two weeks. Their rank in that category figures to skyrocket.
– Strong work from the defensive tackles and linebackers today against the run. Worth tipping the cap to DTs Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Jermelle Cudjo, amongst others.
– As for the offense, it was really a strong performance for a group missing its best wide receiver in Danny Amendola.
– Bradford was spinnin’ it about as well as ever, throwing for 315 yards and hitting 10 different receivers. I don’t buy the theory that Amendola’s absence is a “blessing in disguise” as some say but Bradford did do a terrific job of spreading it around.
– How about WR Brandon Gibson today? Seven catches for 91 yards including an absolutely jaw dropping one-handed grab for 22 yards on the final drive. Nice way to bounce back after a costly bobble on the opening drive.
– Rookie WR Chris Givens continues to hit home runs every week, this time for 65 yards. Strange that he was caught from behind on the play and he said as much when I asked him about it after the game. He didn’t think he had to slow down to make that catch but vowed that he won’t get caught from behind again. He continues to develop.
– Would have been nice to see fellow rookie WR Brian Quick get in the end zone near the end of the game.
– Oh, forgot to mention Bradford did a nice job of feeling pressure most of the day as he scrambled for 34 yards. That’s always a plus to give defenses more to think about.
– Have to like the job done by the O-line for the most part; especially blowing holes open on the ground. The Rams averaged 6 yards per carry on 27 attempts against Miami’s No. 1 ranked run defense which had been giving up just over 61 yards per game.
– RBs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson are doing an excellent job of feeding off each other. Jackson had 12 carries, Richardson had 11. Jackson brings the thunder and Richardson brings the lightning.
– Much like Givens, Richardson was surprised he was caught on his 44-yard scamper in the first half. Both have big time speed, have to wonder if the slow track from the rain and the heat kept them from getting up to full speed quicker.
– That’ll do it for this one. A tough loss but another performance for the Rams to build on heading into a tough one next week against a talented Green Bay squad. Thanks for reading.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. –
– The Rams got the stop and take over at their 38, the best field possession of the day.
– Bradford and Co. got a drive when they needed it most, highlighted by a 26-yard screen to Richardson.
– On fourth-and-1, Bradford sneaked it in for a much needed touchdown to trim it to 17-12 Miami with 8:30 to go.
– The Rams went for the two-point conversion and got it when Bradford hit Jackson. Miami leads 17-14 with 8:30 to go.
– The Dolphins take over at their 20.
– After some missed chances to get off the field, including a fake punt that turned fourth and 1 to first and 10, the Rams got a stop at midfield and forced an actual punt this time.
– The Rams start at their 6.
– Bradford took a huge sack on third down and Zuerlein misses from 66 yards out to end it.
– Disappointing loss for the Rams as they fall 17-14.
– The Dolphins got a big 44 yard return to the 38 to open the third.
– They moved quickly to the Rams 35 with a variety of completions for Tannehill.
– On third and 4, Fletcher was flagged for pass interference for a first down at the 19.
– A false start and incompletion made it second and 15. Tannehill dropped it off to Bush for a gain of 9 to the 15.
– On third and 6, Tannehill found Bush again for a gain of 14 to the 1.
– Tannehill hits Fanaso for 1 yard and a touchdown. It’s 17-6 Miami with 9:40 to go in the third.
– The Rams start their first drive of the second half at their 20.
– They moved it with a third down completion to Jackson but Wake ruined the drive with his second sack of the day and a forced fumble. Jared Odrick recovered it to give it back to Miami at the Rams’ 38.
– Play under review.
– The old tuck rule came into play for the Rams and was ruled an incomplete pass instead of a sack/fumble.
– Miami takes over at its 20.
– Much needed three and out for the defense.
– At the end of the third, Miami has second and 27 at its 9 and a 17-6 lead.
– Rams need some magic here.
– A series of penalties, including a personal foul on old pal Richie Incognito resulted in a three and out.
– Miami got a terrific punt from Brandon Fields forced the Rams to start at their 27, still the best field position of the day so far.
– The Rams put together another solid drive as Bradford had scrambles for 8 and 21 yards and Jackson had runs for 12 and 11.
– But on third and 6 at Miami’s 26, Bradford was sacked on what appeared to be a miscommunication between Wayne Hunter and Quinn Ojinnaka.
– Then, in the biggest surprise yet, Zuerlein’s 52-yard field goal sailed wide left to give it back to Miami with 8:34 to go in the half.
– The Rams continue to control the game but haven’t been able to put the points on the board to match the performance.
– Miami started at the 42 and seemed doomed when Dunbar dropped Tannehill for a sack and a loss of 7.
– But the Phins converted when Tannehill hit Bess for 6 yards on third and 4.
– A second offsides penalty on Kellen Heard made it first and 5 at the Rams’ 29.
– Bush was stopped for no gain.
– Tannehill followed by hitting Marlon Moore, who beat Jenkins for a 29-yard touchdown.
– Miami takes a 7-6 lead with 5:27 to go in the half.
– Disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff. Miller fielded the short kickoff and ran with it but coughed it up as he got to the 20.
– The ball appeared to be there for Pettis but he couldn’t hang on and Miami takes over at the Rams’ 25. Huge swing in momentum here, starting with Zuerlein’s miss.
– Defense comes through with a three and out but Miami gets a 42-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter.
– Miami leads 10-6 with 4:19 to go in the half.
– The Rams start again from their 20.
– Bradford hit Kendricks for 10 and Gibson for 15 with a 4-yard gain by Jackson to the 49.
– After a false start penalty, Bradford threw a perfect deep out to Gibson for 16 yards and a first down to Miami’s 40.
– After a holding penalty nullified a run by Jackson, Bradford fired a perfect pass down the seams to Kendricks for a gain of 22 to the 14.
– Another penalty pushed it back 10 to the 24.
– Two incompletions forced a 37-yard field goal for Zuerlein, who pushed it left again. Stunning. Miami leads 10-6 at the half.
– A thoroughly dominant half but the points aren’t there. Disappointing for the Rams but they have a half to start punching some of these drives in.
– Miami wins the toss and defers. The Rams will receive to start the game.
– Receiver Chris Givens back to return. Rams have been hoping for some opportunities.
– Clearly unfazed by Miami’s top ranked rush defense, the Rams came out grinding on the ground.
– RB Steven Jackson picked up 5 then rookie RB Daryl Richardson ripped off a 44-yard run down the right sideline, the longest run against Miami this season.
– Jackson picked up 5 more to the Dolphins’ 26.
– A costly bobble by WR Brandon Gibson cost the Rams a first down and DE Cameron Wake beat Barry Richardson for a sack on Bradford for a loss of 4.
– On fourth and 9 at the 30, rookie K Greg Zuerlein knocked in a 48-yard field goal with no problems.
– The Rams lead 3-0 with 12:25 to go in the first quarter.
– The Dolphins start at their 18.
– Miami picked up a first down on a third down completion to Davone Bess.
– But DE Chris Long helped stymie the drive with his fourth sack of the season on second and 1. It’s the 35th of his career.
– The Rams avoided disaster as Jenkins coughed up a fumble on the ensuing punt when it went out of bounds. They take over at their 8.
– The Rams took to the air to get the next drive going after Jackson lost 3 on first down.
– Bradford hit Givens for 8 and Austin Pettis for 11 and a first down.
– On first down, Bradford and Givens hooked up on another huge play on a perfectly executed play action pass. Givens caught a perfect ball in stride for a 65-yard gain to Miami’s 11.
– Givens now has a catch of 50+ yards in three consecutive games.
– But the Rams couldn’t punch it in again and settled for Zuerlein’s 32-yard field goal. Have to take advantage of those chances.
– Rams lead it 6-0 with 5:08 to go in first quarter.
– Miami takes over at its 20.
– The defense got a quick three and out after dropping Bush for a loss of 5 on first down.
– The Rams get it back at their 18. Field position has not been their friend early in this one but they’ve managed to move the ball. Need to punch one into the end zone, though.
– Offense moved again powered by an 11-yard run from Richardson and a 12-yard completion to Givens. But the drive ended at midfield on a pair of incompletions.
– The Dolphins start from their 15 and move halfway back to start from their 8 as the quarter ends.
– Dominant first quarter for the Rams but the scoreboard keeps it close at 6-0.
– Greetings from Sun Life Stadium where the Rams and Dolphins are preparing for today’s noon kickoff.
– The weather is warm and the rain intermittent so far this morning and it’s expected that will continue throughout the day. Rain should make this one interesting as both teams seem inclined to attack with the passing game today.
– On today’s inactive list for the Rams: QB Austin Davis, S Matt Daniels, RB Terrance Ganaway, DT Matt Conrath, T Rodger Saffold (knee), WR Danny Amendola (shoulder) and LB Mario Haggan (thigh).
– Miami’s inactives: QB Pat Devlin, WR Jabar Gaffney, CB Richard Marshall, RB Daniel Thomas, T Will Yeatman, TE Michael Egnew and WR Rishard Matthews.
– Good news for the Rams: DE William Hayes, who had been questionable with back issues this week is active and ready to go. He’s been a valuable piece in the rotation, especially against the run this year and will be needed against Reggie Bush and Co.
– The Rams will be wearing all blue today. That’s been a good thing for the Rams, who are 3-0 in that combo this year. It’s a little warmer here and those uniforms figure to be warm in this heat but better to have the all blues than not. First time they’ve worn them on the road.
– No official word on who replaces Amendola in the starting lineup but probably safe to bet on rookie WR Chris Givens.
– Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.
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